BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. — The Russell Biven Clayfest is shooting to raise more money than ever for the Helen Ross McNabb Center. The event goes from Friday, Aug. 6 through Saturday, Aug. 7.
The decades-old Clayfest is a competitive way to support the Blount County community and organizations helping it.
The Clayfest is a tournament that revolves around sporting clays, shooting them out of the air. The sport is something Clayfest co-chair Gary Bentley describes as "loud golf."
Instead of "fore," the athletes yell "pull!"
"Sporting clays just gives you a chance to get outside and shoot guns and not kill anything from it," Bentley said.
At Chilhowee Sportsman's Club in Blount County, the Clayfest makes more of a community impact than just shotgun rounds. Officials said it helps make sure health leaders have resources to meet mental health needs in the community.
Every penny raised goes straight to the McNabb Center, officials said. Money that gets donated in the area, stays in the area.
"You're giving back to support the community and its individuals, not only the individuals but the community as a whole," said Shannon Dow, the director of Blount County services for the McNabb Center.
The event reinforces visible, tangible change with the addition of a 7,200 square foot building on East Broadway in Maryville that will serve people across the area.
"With this expansion, we're able to provide individual and family therapy services. We are adding an additional master's level therapist, specifically for children and youth who suffer from mental health disorders," Dow said.
The pandemic led to greater mental health needs across East Tennessee, according to health leaders. The McNabb Center helps adults and children who don't have insurance and are struggling.
"If anybody wants to help those less fortunate than us with alcohol, drug addictions — it's a great way to give back to the community and it's a fun way to do it," Bentley said.
The McNabb Center is shooting for the best year in fundraising yet. The tournament expects to bring in around $80,000 this year.
A large amount of the money raised comes from donors like Cherokee Distributing. The company makes a donation every year in memory of Herb Ogle.
Clayfest is Aug. 6 and 7 at Chilhowee Sportsman's Club.
You can find ways to donate and volunteer at Mcnabbfoundation.org.